The Delhi High Court has quashed three FIRs registered against a former medical superintendent at a state government hospital here for alleged offences of corruption, saying he cannot be made to undergo the agony of trial after a decade of their filing when there has been a delay in probe and filing of charge sheet.

Without commenting on the merits or demerits of the allegations in the FIRs registered by the Anti-Corruption Branch, the court said Article 21 of the Constitution recognises the right of speedy trial and there was an inordinate and unexplained delay on part of the agency in completing the investigation in the present case even when the accused has always cooperated and joined the investigation.

The Court's order came on petitions by the former official seeking quashing of the FIRs which emanated in 2012 and 2013 from a tender inquiry relating to the procurement of different medical equipment.

Advocate Arundhati Katju appeared for the Petitoiner while Advocate R.S. Kundu, ASC appeared for the Respondent.

"The incidents mentioned in the FIR are more than a decade old and hence, serious prejudice would be caused to the petitioner if trial is to be conducted on a charge sheet after more than a decade. The petitioner cannot be made to undergo the agony of trial after a decade of filing the FIRs For the aforesaid reasons, (the FIRs) are hereby quashed on account of delay in investigation and filing of charge sheet," said Justice Jasmeet Singh in a recent order.

"What weighs with me is not only the fact that the charge sheet is still awaiting sanction before the competent authority but also the inordinate and unexplained delay in conducting the investigation for 10 long years," stated the judge.

In its 25-page order, the Court noted that there was an abuse of process of law in the instant matter and there was a delay in registration of FIRs as well as charge sheet.

"In the present matters, there is abuse of process of law. The impugned FIRs were registered in 2012, more than 2 years after the alleged offences and 6 months after the complaints were received by the agency," the Court said.

"There has been an inordinate delay of more than 10 years in filing the charge-sheet, which is yet not filed for want of sanction. The delay in investigation is not attributable to the petitioner. In my view, the respondent (state) has not been able to justify the inordinate delay in filing the charge sheet and concluding the investigation," added the Court.

The Court stated that the delay in the investigation was not attributable to the petitioner and "sword has been hanging on the head of the petitioner for no fault of his".

Cause Title: Dr. Sarbesh Bhattarcharjee v. State NCT of Delhi

Click here to read/download Order